Police crackdowns and other crap I read: June 19, 2014

Gee, you don’t say

The Hankyoreh complains about the disproportionate use of force to contain/put down protests. Now, as anybody who has been here for a while will tell you, this is by no means a new phenomenon, and I don’t have statistics from protests during previous administrations with which to compare, but still, the numbers presented by the Hani are truly astounding.

Even Yours Truly has noticed. This was from the June 10 protest (6,400 vs. 100).

Photo 2014. 6. 10. 오후 7 09 37

Seriously, I didn’t know if they were protecting Cheong Wa Dae or preparing to invade Gaul. And the odd thing was, I think I saw, at most, maybe two protesters…in the entire Gwanghwamun area.

I get that overwhelming numbers may dissuade would-be ne’er-do-wells from engaging in bad behavior, but the heavy-handedness can backfire, too. Mostly by pissing everybody the hell off. People live and work in and around Gwanghwamun (including your Uncle Marmot), and when the neighborhood goes on lockdown, it can become real pain-in-the-ass, and for no real good reason.

PS to cops: Look, I know you guys gotta do what you’ve gotta do, but if you’ve just gotten done violently carting old folk away, commemorative photos are probably in poor taste:

Well, self-reflection is important

So, a well-known Korean restaurant in New York is apparently being sued by several former employees for forcing them to, among other things, “work 18-hour shifts without overtime, attend church before work on Sundays, and “volunteer” their time picking vegetables at a farm outside the city.” (HT to Todd). Get a load of this:

Waiters also testified about having to spend their days off picking cabbages and chili peppers at a farm in New Jersey owned by a friend of the owner, essentially gathering ingredients for the kimchi that the restaurant serves and sells. Song Jong Hyep, a young waiter participating in the lawsuit, recalled being notified of this obligation via fliers posted on the restaurant’s bulletin board.

“The flier said, ‘Let’s go on a picnic and eat barbecued meat together!'” he said in an interview. “But we’re not in the 1960s—it’s not like we can’t eat meat these days. We knew we were only going to have to work for free on our day off.”

For Song and other waiters who declined to pick vegetables, their refusal came with a price. According to Song, the owner told everyone who hadn’t worked on the farm to drop on their knees and beg for his forgiveness, or leave. Song didn’t work for four weeks. Others were denied work for longer than that and effectively fired.

More crap

Does this mean Moon Chang-geuk’s nomination is dead?

– The incoming US ambassador to Korea is talking about getting Seoul and Tokyo talking. Good luck with that. The new guy is just 41 years old, but he’s apparently well-respected by the Korea policy folk.

– Here’s your primer to Korean cults.

  • Ajoshi123

    That restauranteur really pushing to bring Korean culture to the USA! I wonder why they don’t like it?

    Sad that people try and treat their staff like that, I hope they win the law suit and somehow that has ramifications as to how people treat their staff here in Korea.

  • flyingsword

    Hankyoreh, the mouth piece of nK? There is a good source.

  • bumfromkorea

    According to The Korean, this isn’t the first time that restaurant abused its employees…

  • RElgin

    I hope the restaurant owner (Yu), and his associates, are driven out of business, but considering the use of connection in the Korean-American community, it will take some digging and monitoring to deal with this bum.

  • redwhitedude

    Oh look. The police think this is some kind of picnic.

  • redwhitedude

    The business should just be shut down.

  • redwhitedude

    Korean culture isn’t about violating labor laws.

  • Calpico

    Didn’t seem to have problems violating them from the 1960’s to 1980’s though.

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah, but you can say the same thing of a lot of countries that have similar histories of dictatorships and labor right struggles. Still doesn’t make it cultural.

  • dlbarch

    For a TOTALLY AWESOME Seoul Metro Police video, I nominate this:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=851753628187444

    I hope it embeds properly.

    DLB

  • redwhitedude

    Hey Robert,
    you forgot this crap.
    http://121.78.129.108/www/news/world/2014/06/182_159332.html

    Chinese have the audacity to have festival over dog meat. Let’s see another clumsy chinese PR attempt.

  • bigmamat

    So what would be their excuse now? Don’t they require photos and a life history often including what your parents do? Don’t people get pressured to drink, work long hours without extra pay and sit around doing nothing until the boss goes home? Haven’t they been caught keeping people in states of indentured servitude often in squalid conditions? I don’t think it’s necessarily cultural but workers rights don’t seem to be huge priority in Korea. Of course they aren’t a huge priority in the U.S. anymore either but that’s a different story where workers actually had rights at one time and then gradually lost them over several decades.

  • bigmamat

    Death grip + dedication = score one for Seoul’s finest.

  • wangkon936

    “That restauranteur really pushing to bring Korean culture to the USA!”

    I agree that labor abuse isn’t an integral part of Korean culture. It is a problem IN Korean society, just as it is a problem in a lot of other societies. I believe illogically linking labor abuse with a particular culture (be it Korean or anyone else’s) is a bit racist.

  • wangkon936

    In an earlier comment: http://www.rjkoehler.com/2014/06/18/crap-i-read-june-18-2014/#comment-1443419168

    You seem to indicate that you criticize in order to see some improvement in Korea. You also seem to profess your respect and appreciation for some Koreans. However, when you make a comment as general as “… really pushing to bring Korean culture to the USA!” then one has to question your supposed “appreciation” for some Koreans if you are willing to bash their culture like that.

    The above doesn’t make you sound any different from the garden variety Korea basher.

  • redwhitedude

    The drinking hence a lot of people die prematurely due to messed up livers. Workers rights may not be perfect in Korea but it is far better than where Korea is coming from. Not interested in defending all the extracurricular crap that goes on in Korea.

  • redwhitedude

    Korea is sure bound to be overrepresented in the World’s wildest police videos.

  • wangkon936

    bigmarmat,

    Here:

    http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=2987280

    Despite what some Westerners think, many Koreans are actually more stressed in a Western-style work culture than in a Korean one. The MTs are a pain in the ass sometimes, but working for a foreigner can be worse in different ways.

  • redwhitedude

    At the end of the day regardless of who you are and whom you work for it will always be stressful. Some more than others. So no surprise there.

  • wangkon936

    Yes, but many non-Korean commenters have made the assumption that Koreans would be better off in a more Western type of corporate culture setting. However, according to this survey, that isn’t always true.

  • djson1

    Ha! That was pretty cool. It almost looked like the cop had roller skates on at one point. The video ended too soon….I was hoping to see a beat-down on the motorcycle rider…but then remembered that is in Korea.

  • bigmamat

    I think Koreans have a very western type work culture. It isn’t like the US haven’t given companies free reign to intrude on your personal life in many ways. Granted they won’t ask you for a picture but most places still do interviews and the beautiful will often win out over the average regardless of credentials. Get a job in any sector that deals with the government or handling personal information and a security clearance is required. Here they collect piss. You can’t even sling chow in some shit hole corporate restaurant chain without taking a “personality test” and giving them a dose of morning pee. Which BTW singles out only one form of drug use, marijuana, the least insidious of all. I personally think if Koreans aren’t happy with their work culture they need to decide that doing things like Americans is a large part of their problem. During the Sewol tragedy I had very little to say regarding the problems that were discussed other than…welcome to America. I guess my original comment sounded like I was blaming Korean culture. I’m not really, I kind of blame the Americans or at least the Koreans for turning out to be a lot like us.

  • bigmamat

    I bet he had to replace his shoes…he was dragging his toes the whole time…I almost expected to see flames shoot out like a Road Runner cartoon…

  • wangkon936

    I don’t know about that. I’ve worked with Koreans before. Mostly SMEs. Still very Korean in how they view interpersonal relationships and hierarchy.

  • redwhitedude

    Without putting those comments in proper context it can be viewed as arrogant. Koreans are brought up in a certain way so it could be that causes additional stress to Koreans if they are all of the sudden thrust in a western corporate setting. Overall Korea work causes stress by itself which is no different than other countries so I don’t know what this comment about work stress is trying to get.

  • redwhitedude

    I don’t know what you mean by “intrude on your personal life in many ways” means.

    Do you mean that they ask you your marital status, age and so forth?

  • redwhitedude

    Hey it happens in the US too. You hear about businesses here and there using illegal immigrants which leads to abuse.

  • bigmamat

    Piss testing, now many companies are testing for smokers so they can charge them higher insurance premiums. Background checks, checking people’s credit ratings, scanning facebook and SNS accounts, these to me are intrusions that often go beyond the scope of what is necessary for an employer to know about their employee.

  • wangkon936

    Piss testing use to be pretty big in the States in the 80s and early 90s. Then there was a piss testing “crash” as employers suddenly realized that it really didn’t matter if their workers smoked a little weed on the side.

  • redwhitedude

    Depends on what type of job you are referring. Say a warehouse job it is not unexpected for terms of employment to include piss testing, criminal background checks and so forth because the sort of characters that tend to hold those jobs. As opposed to white collar work which there is certain level of trust and they won’t do unless they suspect it. That’s the way the US is.

    As to facebook and SNS sad to say but the internet is like being out in the public and they can certainly scan things because it is just like being out on the street.

    Do you find Koreans going by what they perceive to be western?

  • bigmamat

    It made them a lot more grubby. They can treat workers any way they please now because there is always someone else waiting, labor laws have been gutted and unions are practically non existent. Granted I know a bit about small businesses that make me sympathize with the inclination to cheat in every way. Large business however with people pulling down obscene salaries at the top deserve different treatment. I think it’s time for a worker’s populist movement in my country. Way to much of the middle class has been feeling uncomfortable if not completely lost their shit. Many people are hovering on the brink. Americans are still fat and lazy and bigoted and misogynistic. So there will still be a few people always that allow themselves to be distracted by dumb shit while they pick your pocket. People are beginning to get the idea that if they want to improve their lives they’ll need to band together to get a share.

  • pawikirogii

    hope you wont mind me talking about this here buy i found a whole reddit thread about that ridiculous add for bulgogi featuring some unknown k baseball player. the reddit crowd was not kind. this got me to thinking about the right kind of ad to attract people’s attention.

  • bigmamat

    I’m not sure if they are aware a lot of their culture a lot like the US. But they are most definitely good little free market acolytes. They have an old guy runs the show society. A penchant for luxury goods. They’re narcissistic, self absorbed, deeply xenophobic. A food culture that constantly tells you to eat but expects you to stay thin. Need I say more, sounds like us. True these are generalizations. That’s just a shit list. I think we also have good things in common. All I’m trying to say is, many things about Koreans are very familiar. I don’t know if it’s like that because they’ve been around us or because it’s just people being people. It doesn’t matter. It makes me interested and want to relate. Does that sound weird? I’m trying to figure out what Koreans think, maybe it’ll help me figure out my stuff as well.

  • bigmamat

    Work is stressful since you have to do it for so long. Childhood is fucking great. I can’t imagine being thrown into another work environment with secondary language skills. Hell to the no, and I can ask for the bathroom in Korean. If companies had any sense they’d use some management strategies to help them get the best out of their employees. That might mean instituting a mentoring program. These things only cost for the initial training. Oh well, good management is hard to come by these days.

  • flyingsword

    wow…bet his feet were warm after that!

    I wonder if the scooter driver violated the law or just got the cops lunch order wrong…

  • redwhitedude

    Sounds like western influence and how they take it in. Some of it is uniquely Korean. The xenophobic part is more about being homogenous and the insularism that it results especially among older guys. It’s very easy to fall for sensationalist reports on foreigners.

  • bigmamat

    I’m not sure if the motivation for the xenophobia is the same but I recognize the trait in both cultures. I told you it’s a shit list.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I know the restaurant. I have eaten there and it was quite good. Service was good and the food tasty. I will go back

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Obviously, as a dog meat fan, I have no problem with the dog meat itself, although I suppose I resent the fact that it’s CHINA that’s hosting the festival.

  • redwhitedude

    Unfortunately certain netizens don’t realize that it is CHINA that is more brazen about dog meat than Korea. But this falls under crap news.

  • redwhitedude

    And amusing crap
    http://121.78.129.108/www/news/world/2014/06/182_159415.html

    Just think what this will do with Korean driving. It will do wonders.It will set it back to where it was to those nostalgic about bygone era in Korean driving.

  • Ajoshi123

    But it is about being expected to work until the boss leaves, go in when you are on holiday if requested and not even take your allowed holidays.

    Seems like that is what happened in this case.

  • bumfromkorea

    And again, I’m a fool for giving new people the benefit of the doubt… -_-

  • jfpower

    Whether or not the dread c-word is at play, it should be painfully obvious that Korea, generally, is not a very pleasant place for workers.

  • wangkon936

    Unless you’re a Hyundai unionized worker. Those guys are grossly overpaid. Their town, Ulsan, has the highest per capita GDP in all of Korea.

  • jfpower

    There are exceptions everywhere. Most Korean workers are over-stressed and not compensated for the mountains of extra work they are expected to do. Soft exploitation is rife.

  • Ajoshi123

    Not just its workers.

  • redwhitedude

    That also leads to time wasting and being inefficient.